I was watching the TV show ‘The Voice’ mainly because of Sir Tom Jones. However, I was taken aback with the last singer, who was good, but what he said confirmed just how young people have become so disconnected from the world of politics. Asked about what inspired him to sing, he said ‘that he had no faith with our politicians and that music was his way of dealing with his life’ and also made the point about the failure of the system. He was not making one of those celebrity outbursts of indignation; just telling how as a young person he felt disconnected from the system.
So, what’s this got to do with Rushmoor? Everything! Many years ago, when I was a Rushmoor Councillor there was engagement with the voters, they knew who I was, what I was doing for them and of course I was reported on many occasions in the local & national press. Today, how often do you see reports in the local paper about Planning meetings, what has caused a stir in the Council or what Councillors have said. These days who even knowns who the Mayor is; I certainly don’t. Is it because of the way councils work today; has it become so remote to the point of being useless?
This now brings me back to the disenfranchised young voters and how to engage with them. There is no easy answer to this but this is where the local councillor comes in. We have two very hard working UKIP councillors in Rushmoor but they cannot do it all, so it needs everyone in one shape or form to be involved in trying to engage with these young voters.
So, how do we do this? Well, let’s take the fight to them. Every Monday afternoon I go to the 6th Form College for their ‘Pass iton’ course which helps those of us who would like to know how to make better use of our computers. The good thing about this is that it’s the students who do the teaching, I’ve learnt so much from them. But here’s the important part; I engage with them. I make a point of taking to them about what course they are doing, their aspiration, how they feel about society & do they feel a part of it. Generally they do not. This then gives me the opportunity to talk about politics. I make no secret of the fact that I am a member of UKIP and what has surprised me so far is that I’ve had no adverse comments or the usual rubbish that I’m a racist. In fact its the very opposite. They want to talk to me about the party & when I explain to them what we stand for & that we are against unlimited immigration but for controlled borders & social justice for all they seem amazed. I do not shy away about from touchy subjects but face them head on. To my amazement many agree with what UKIP stands for. But here is the main thing, I’m engaging with them to the point now that I’ve ended up with a small group that comes up to me every week. They appreciate that someone of my age wants to engage with them and is encouraging them to get out there & get involved in politics. This is where I feel UKIP could tap into this frustration that these youngsters feel with the system. As I said to these youngsters when we were campaigning for ‘Leave’: "I’m between 50 & death, so don’t just leave it to me to decide your future get out there & decide for yourself". Whether I have had any impact I don’t know, but at least I tried. So, watch this space.